May 3, 2008

Season Four Saturdays: Planet of the Ood

(As always, this review is spoiler-free)

Continuing on from last week's sojourn to ancient Rome, the Doctor and Donna find themselves - totally randomly (at the Doctor insists at the beginning) at the Ood-Sphere. Realizing that he had some unfinished business with the Ood, the Doctor decides to get involved....

...I have to admit that I really didn't feel like there was any unfinished business with the Ood. After all, they seemed to another unusual race, with some suggested relationship (made explicit in this episode) to a relatively obscure Who alien. In fact, there really seemed to be no rationale to bring them back other than...well, they were there.

But this is an episode that, although structurally no big surprise, actually is quite touching in many ways.

Much of it is the thought that went into why the Ood are a slave race - and the explanation for the need for those spheres that come out of their mouths. (They're not just for translation - there's an actual physiological component, but that's pushing towards spoiling the episode). Suffice it to say, the Ood are normally "not" a servile race...but a peaceful one exploited by humans.

(Or, as the Doctor points out to Donna, 42nd century Earth bears a strong resemblance to our own times....but more on that after the next paragraph)

There's a quite touching - and sad - moment when Donna is allowed access to the Ood's experience...and she finds it a little too much to bear. The Doctor, on the other hand, does not have that choice, which feeds into the themes of morality and choices present in this fact, this is probably one of the first times (at least, that I can recall) where the Doctor assertively states that he felt he "owed" a race a favor, that there was a sense of obligation to his travels....

...which makes the episode glisten a little bit more, and gives it a little bit more weight. Granted, there are some obligatory twists and turns, but they actually do some as complete surprises. The 21st-century-dress-in-the-42nd-century conceit actually makes sense given the themes (unlike Davies' using 21st century reality shows 500,000 years in the future). The last ten minutes - with a twist and another piece of foreshadowing- really help elevate this episode.

It's an OK episode with some nice touches, but something tells me the best is yet to come...

No comments: